web design

Creating A Quality Web Site Design

In this article, I will attempt to cover the basics of creating a great quality web design template for your site. Now it’s a known fact that the layout or “eye candy” as I put it will determine whether your visitors will stay more than 15 seconds or they will just become another statistic.

In this article, I will attempt to cover the basics of creating a great quality web design template for your site. Now it’s a known fact that the layout or “eye candy” as I put it will determine whether your visitors will stay more than 15 seconds or they will just become another statistic.
That’s right, if you don’t catch your visitors attention right away, statistics shows us that your visitors will come and go within 15 seconds or less.

That doesn’t leave you with a lot of time to grab someone’s attention!

Some of you may be asking yourself: Well why does this happen????

See when you think about it, 15 seconds to the “browsing eye” is like an eternity. In other words, it takes about 15 seconds for the average person to browse your main page and determine whether they will explore your site further!

So with that being said; How do we grab your visitors attention????

Every new client of mine is asked to perform the same tasks. I ask them to explore their competitors web sites and look for specific triggers that would make them want to click on or buy right away. More times than none, my clients will notice specific “Headlines” or “Graphics” that really peek their interest. In doing this, you’ll have 1st hand knowledge on what you expect your visitors will see and possibly expect themselves.

Step 2, I’ll ask my clients to do one more process just like the previous one. I’ll ask them to make a list of all the “eye candy” that really caught their attention and write me a little note as to why it caught their attention. In doing this, it will give your web designer a 1st hand knowledge on what to implement within your site!!!

With these great tasks, you’ve made your job and the job of your web designer a lot easier to target your audience.

Sites that sell “Web Site Templates” :

You may have seen some sites that sell your the right for a specific “Template Style”. There are 100′s of resources out there. I need to clarify something for you, these templates are targeted at web designers only!!! Reason being, the files that you receive will no doubt require some expensive and time consuming software just to open them.

Now being a designer, I’m not about to “knock” pre-made templates but there’s a couple of things you may want to consider:

1) Although the templates you may encounter are very impressive, you will be sharing your layout template with 100′s, maybe 1000′s of other sites. The reason why they are so cheap is because those “specific templates” are sold and re-sold as much as possible!

2) I’ve noticed that many template examples out there on the web are extremely “Graphic Driven”. This will result in “slow loading times”. I’m sure we’ve all come across a site that seemed to take FOREVER to load!! How long did you actually wait for the site to load????

The best way to get a template is to have someone professional design your web site layout for you! This will ensure that your template is uniquely designed for your business. It will be easier for you to make changes in the future. Typically, a template may cost you between $0-$500 depending on the intensity and added features!

Now, we’ve talked about “Slow loading pages”. I’ve found a good “norm” to stick with when it comes to size and speed: Web sites are compiled of 2 elements:

1) Graphics & Layouts
2) Programming & Pages

Both of them require memory from your computer when downloading them. If one or the other is too large then this may result in negative results for your visitors.

Here’s a good norm to stick with, either you or your web designer should stick with these specs:

1) Graphic Design Layout: Should be no more than: 30-50K in size
2) Programming Pages: Shouldn’t be more than: 10-30k in size

Giving your entire web page no more than 40k-80k in size. Anything drastically more will result in the loss of many visitors from slow downloading pages.

Animation: Last but not least, making “some” aspects of you page stand out by adding small size animations. PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT overkill your site with graphics and animation!!! I can’t stress this enough, your visitors will most likely get a head ache from it and won’t be coming back very soon.

Instead, try targeting specific promotions or services you wish to attract your visitors to right away! Many sites exchange “animated banners” with other sites to exchange traffic. I personally NEVER take part in adding ANY banners on my site. I honestly feel that banners only take away from the design, not add to it! A typical “Banner Dimension” is 468px x 60px.
There are many other sizes!

What I will usually take part in, if any, is smaller, more unique banners that are geared to complimenting an article or text with it. This is much more effective because study shows us that “Content (text)” accompanied by a “graphic image” is more likely to be read by our visitors than just text on it’s own.

That about raps it up to having an effective web site template. Please look for my “continued” issues related to this article.

 

Design vs. SEO : Can My Site be Cool And Rank Well?

Do you have to sacrifice all of the creative and artistic elements of your web site to rank in the search engines? Later in this article I’ll show you a real case scenario and the design and SEO approach used.

Thanks to the birth of professional search engine marketers the top ranks are saturated with the pages of companies that can pay for such insight. That said, it’s certainly possible to employ high ranking tactics in your own website. Actually, the most basic tactics can move you up from an 800 position to a 300. However, it’s the top of the scale where efforts seem almost inversely exponential or logarithmic, you put a ton in to see a tiny change in rank.

How do you meld the ambitious overhauls required to attain significant ranking and NOT compromise the design of your site?

Design Can’t Be Ignored

If you have an existing site, you’ve probably tied it into your existing promotional content. Even if you’ve allowed your website to cater to the more free form of the net, it should still be designed as a recognizable extension of your business.

The reasons for doing so are valid, and can’t simply be ignored for the sake of achieving a first age position, can they? If your research into search optimization leaves you shuffling around thoughts of content, keyword saturated copy and varying link text, you are correctly understanding some of the basic pillars of search engine optimization.

And, you aren’t alone if you have this disheartening thought—If I do all this SEO stuff and reach number one across the board, who would stay at my site because it’s so stale and boring I’m even embarrassed to send people there!

There are two ways to successfully combine design and SEO. The first is to be a blue chip and/or Fortune 500 company with multi million dollar advertising and branding budgets to deliver your website address via television, radio, billboards, PR parties and giveaways with your logo.

Since chances are that’s not you, and certainly not me, lets look at the second option. It begins with some research into your market, some thoughtful and creative planning, and a designer who is a search engine optimizer, and understands at least basic CSS and HTML programming techniques. Or a combination of people with these skills that can work very well together.

Design is for brochures, instant results are for the web

That’s not the whole truth, but it will help compare and contrast design and SEO. In reality, SEO needs the quantity and detail of supporting text that a brochure has, but good web design has to catch a viewer’s attention in 5 seconds. It’s pretty difficult to read and absorb the content of an entire brochure in less than 5 seconds.

Search engines need rich, related, appropriate, changing and poignant content. And for them to rank you, all of that must be on your pages. But if it’s not well organized and broken down into bite size chunks, no one is going to bother learning about what you’re offering.

Construction 101- Attractive Design and SEO

Sadly, it’s very difficult to optimize a site without completely overhauling it. You’ll soon understand why. Design and SEO must be strongly rooted into every aspect of each other, possessing a true, symbiotic relationship. Lets look at a simplified example of this. Lets say you are optimizing a page for the keyword phrase, “pumpkin bread recipe.”

From a design standpoint “Pumpkin Bread Recipe” would be the heading for the page, in a nice, readable font with the words perhaps an orange-brown color. And lets add a fine, green rule around it.

There are many ways to create that simple, colored heading. However, there is only one way that is best for both design and SEO. That is to use Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS. In addition, that line of code containing “Pumpkin Bread Recipe” needs to be as close to the top of the page as possible (which CSS also allows).

To a viewer, the recipe text might be read more if it were located to the right of a photo of a buttered piece of pumpkin bread on a small plate next to a lightly steaming cup of coffee.

SEO needs to read that ingredient list and baking instructions. Search engines now understand on a rudimentary level that the ingredients are indeed related to the optimized words- pumpkin bread recipe.

Additionally, it would take many extra lines of code to make a table in this example if you didn’t use CSS. Search engines don’t like extra code. In fact, given enough times, that “extra” code will make the keyword phrases seem less important and hurt rank.

Note: In the page code, a few thousand characters more than you need to get all of that content organized would normally just add to your page load time, and might be acceptable. But to a search engine, that time can really add up. It wont read through page after page, site after site, billionth after billionth character of unimportant code to find the relevant text. Therefore, the less code, the better your chances. Moral- Less code, more content.

SEO usually means REDO

In the previous pumpkin example, CSS will eliminate the need for almost any extra code at all, and provide the means to place the text to the right of the photo.

Now, imagine that someone had already created this page, but done so using other programming methods. The page could very well be W3C compliant, well programmed and got the job done. However, without designing and programming for optimization as in the above illustration, the end result would have no significant rank compared to others that do.

You can be sure that there exist at least 30 web sites built to rank for the keywords “pumpkin bread recipe”. Note- why did I use the number 30? It’s safe to assume if you’re not on the first three results pages of a search, you’re not being seen.

While this is a simple example, hopefully you understand that it would be impossible to optimize this simple page without redoing it. This isn’t always the case, but extrapolate this into detailed, multiple pages in an entire website and the issue is greatly magnified.

Aesthetic Importance vs. Traffic

Everyone has an idea of what they want their site to look like. The pretty factor- splash pages, cool flash and graphics must now be justified as to their importance to the bottom line. If you want/need to establish an online presence, you will have to make some compromises in these areas.

Understand exactly the role your site should play in your company marketing.

Ask- What is the goal of your website and who is its audience? Is it for existing clients to see? Is it to reach new clients? To venture into yet untapped market segments?

Ask- How strongly do your other marketing efforts promote your site?

Ask- Is your website an extension of your existing collateral that must reflect the same graphical look?

Ask- Is your website meant to assist to your sales force or is it your sales force?

Chances are you wont have any single answers. That’s ok. It will give you some meat for your designer/SEO to digest and develop a solution for you.

Real case of Design balanced with SEO and salability

If you sell jewelry solely online, you must have a catalog of exceptional photography and detailed, high-resolution close up images. But, you must be optimized and rank well if you want to sell any of that jewelry.

If such a company approached me with this project, my recommendation would be this: If you sell a product, people have to see that product. Lots of good images. The site should be slick and sheik and easy to navigate. The home page has to capture the buyer’s attention. If it’s very expensive jewelry, the site should have a lot of class and elegance. If it’s home made jewelry, the site shouldn’t look home made.

However, as you have no store front, if the online community can’t find you, you’re business will fail. So I’d have a very optimized home page with some discussion of the quality of your product, the history of your company, etc. This is also great sales copy. Ad a few special catalog pieces with descriptions below some smartly placed gifs, jpegs and readable type graphics built out of CSS and you’ve got a cool to look at, content rich, well optimized layout.

I’d make the link to your catalog very obvious and prominent. Note the catalog is not the homepage. I’d also include subsequent well written, in depth pages about the history of some specific pieces. Load them with targeted keywords and a few images. Again, make your catalog link very prominent. In doing so you’re creating relevant content for search engines AND providing additional pages that can rank.

The catalog can be database driven, simple and changeable, and you have the foundation to build your search rank.

Planning Your Site

If your designer is not a search engine optimizer, hire one to work with your designer from the initial development stage of your site. If you would like a visible presence that is not dependant on traditional marketing efforts to get your name around, then you will have to optimize.

However, with advances in html and css, text itself can be a very flexible and attractive design element with endless possibilities. Site optimization consists of some rigid, unbendable rules. It can be intertwined successfully with very creative and attractive design. If your Designer and SEO aren’t the same person or company, make sure they have the same, close working relationship.

 

Benefits of Web Site Templates

Okay, you are ready to join the masses and put up a web site. You’ve put a lot of thought into the design and are ready to go. Perhaps you should give more thought to using a web site template.

Web Site Templates

For many people, it makes more sense to use a pre-designed web template instead of creating a site from scratch. Using a pre-designed site template allows you to get a professional design at a fraction of the price a custom design would cost. A good template is automated or has HTML tags to show you exactly where to put your text. This saves you precious time. Also, a web page designed by someone just learning HTML is more likely to have mistakes than one designed and tested by professionals. Mistakes in web site code can prevent some users from being able to see a web page or can even cause lower search engine rankings.

There are millions of web sites on the Internet and there are more being born every second. Even though there may be more than one web site using the pre-designed site template you choose, the likelihood of a visitor seeing both sites is not great. Every site is unique in the data it presents. Web templates present data quickly and professionally without the hassle of designing anything.

Being that many web templates are under $50 and many custom site designs are well over $5000, it is easy to see how web templates can save money and time. Web templates are a good way for someone to learn HTML. By becoming familiar with code that has been written professionally, a webmaster can pick up on things along the way. Instead of having an amateur web site at the start, an HTML novice can have a professional site from the beginning with a pre-designed site template.

Search Engines also play a factor in choosing web templates. Sites with HTML mistakes do not fair well in search engines. Particularly in older versions of Netscape, forgetting one “table” tag can mean the whole page won’t show. A good web template has been designed and tested in many environments, to W3C standards, for maximum compatibility. Instead of thrashing your way through mistakes, take advantage of competent template designs.

If you are just starting out, a web site template is almost always the way to go. There are thousands of sites offering them for sale for very low prices. Why waste your time when you can use a template to get off to a quick, professional start?